[WATCH] Updated | Black bags lined the streets but this did not surprise Jose Herrera

It was not an entirely successful day for the new organic waste collection system but Environment Minister Jose Herrera says every white bag picked up helps reduce the impact on the landfills • 90 tonnes of organic waste are collected on the first day

Jose Herrera said the pilot project on organic waste separation had anticipated problems on the first day of a nationwide roll out
Jose Herrera said the pilot project on organic waste separation had anticipated problems on the first day of a nationwide roll out
The first day for organic waste separation did not go quite well

Updated at 6.15pm with amount of waste collected

It had to be the first day of a new organic waste collection system but instead of white bags, most streets in Malta woke up today lined with black bags.

Information campaigns advising people that on Wednesday only the white bags containing organic waste will be collected, appear to have fallen on deaf ears but Environment Minister Jose Herrera was not discouraged when asked about the lack of cooperation.

"The result was expected... the success of this initiative depends on a shift in culture, therefore the transition from putting out black bags to putting out white bags needs time,” Herrera told MaltaToday.

The minister said that it was difficult to break the norm and more focus would be placed on efforts to educate people.

Several Wasteserv employees were sent to perform check-ups in various localities on Wednesday, with stickers being attached to black bags to inform residents on the new pick-up schedule.

“Despite opting to educate people rather than issuing fines on the first day, people must know that putting out black bags on the days that they will not be picked-up, remains illegal,” Herrera said.

A pilot project conducted before the start of a nationwide roll out of organic waste separation had shown that cooperation by residents would not be at its best on the first day, he added.

Asked if the lack of full cooperation by people was the result of a failed information campaign in the run up to the new system, the minister said that rather than focusing on the bad, he preferred to look at the positive aspect.

“With every white bag taken out, the impact on our landfills lessens and that indicates the start of a successful campaign,” he said.

The minister said that once people learnt to properly make use of the white organic bag, the black bag containing mixed waste would gradually be rendered useless.

Here is a reminder of what can go into the white organic waste bag

Organic waste will be taken to the Sant'Antnin recycling facility in Marsaskala where it will be processed into compost.

The waste collection schedule in Malta sees organic waste being collected on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. But different localities have different schedules for mixed waste and recyclables. Check out the collection schedule for Malta here and that for Gozo here.

Councils association disappointed

The Local Councils Association (LCA) said on Wednesday it was disappointed with how lack of planning piled unnecessary pressure on local councils.

The LCA said the distribution of organic waste bins, which was tasked to a contractor, ended up being a problem for local councils that were not consulted on the matter.

Councils are not to shoulder the blame for the inadequate distribution of organic bins, the LCA said.

But despite the setback, the LCA said the organic waste separation was a good initiative that helped provide a more sustainable environment and reduce the impact on landfills.

Herrera said that the councils’ complaints were understandable and pledged to communicate further with local councils in an effort to fix any irregularities that may crop up.

90 tonnes of waste

In a statement issued this evening, the Environment Ministry said that by 3pm some 90 tonnes of organic waste were collected from households in 50 localities on the first day of the scheme.

The results were described as "encouraging" by the ministry, which pledged to step up its campaign to inform people of their obligation to separate waste at home.

"A large number of people understood their obligation to separate organic waste. This is more positive when compared with the average of 21 tonnes of organic waste that was collected daily as part of a pilot project. As a government we understand that this is a change in our culture and mentality. It is also an important change to the environment having a direct impact on our lives and the communities we live in," Jose Herrera said in the statement.

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